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Minister Jarc presents increase in Milk Quotas and Review of CAP Reform to European Parliament

The Slovenian Minister Iztok Jarc, Chairman of the EU Council for Agriculture and Fisheries, today presented to MEPs at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg the EU Council proposal to increase national milk quotas as well as the key emphases of the discussions to-date on the review of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).


Increase in national milk quotas

Minister Jarc opened by welcoming the report by MEP Elisabeth Jeggle on the proposal to increase milk quotas as a constructive and balanced contribution to the discussion. He commented that it was not possible to confine the issue of milk quotas to the question of the percentage increase as the issue is broader and closely associated with several aspects of the CAP. The Council therefore joins the European Parliament in its initiative for a comprehensive long-term strategy for the European milk sector.

"We believe that the basic part of this strategy should be the "soft landing" approach in abolition of milk quotas, with which we could provide a smooth transition towards a more market-oriented milk policy and predictability in the sector. As the Presidency, we are fully determined to do everything in our power to achieve our common aim, which is a balanced and predictable long-term strategy for the European milk sector", said Mr Jarc at the meeting.

In his speech, he pointed out that the concerns of the Council and the Parliament are very similar. "Calls for predictability and stability in the milk sector have been expressed. Emphasis was also placed on concern for regions with less favourable possibilities for agriculture, where there are few or perhaps even no alternatives to traditional milk production. On the other hand, however, there were firm requests to enable European farmers to use the opportunities offered by the developing EU market and international markets. The Council intends to invite the Commission to examine all the relevant measures in this respect."

The European Commission has proposed, on the basis of favourable market opportunities, as presented in its report, that national milk quotas be increased by 2% in the following quota year, i.e. as of 1 April 2008.


Review of the Common Agricultural Policy

On behalf of the Council, Chairman Mr Jarc, welcomed the report prepared by reporter Lutz Goepel as an important contribution to the discussion on the CAP review, which the Ministers will try to complete next week by adopting Council conclusions.

In general, the Ministers are convinced that the Commission in its report has correctly evaluated the main development trends following the CAP reform and defined the main challenges in the years to come. Mr Jarc said at the meeting: "The reforms of 2003 and 2004 have achieved many of their objectives. The CAP has become a more effective instrument enabling farmers to respond better to market circumstances and the general concerns of the citizens."

He emphasized that, "In seeking answers to these questions we have to find the right balance between adjusting the policy to new challenges and changed circumstances and on the other hand preserving a clear and stable framework permitting farmers and other entities to plan and adopt their business decisions. At the same time, we should make use of the CAP review to adjust the CAP better to the expectations of society, while preserving the European agricultural model."

The Council agreed that there is a need for further simplification and improvement of the effectiveness and performance of the single payment area. Cross-compliance is the essential element of the reformed CAP and is of key importance for ensuring public support for the new policy. In this regard it is important that the general administrative burden for farmers and the public administration is not increased and that it is reduced wherever possible. Within this debate, the Council will strive to adopt conclusions on many important issues, among other things on risk management, increasing expectations for the so-called second pillar of the CAP and transition to the abolition of milk quotas in 2015.

Following that, the Slovenian Presidency will strive to launch the debate on the legislative proposals at the earliest possible opportunity in order to complete as much work as possible before the end of Slovenias Presidency of the EU Council.


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Date: 14.03.2008